Australian WILMA WATTS has hopped all over Asia as an expat for nigh on 20 years. She’s a master of re-invention, launching her own small floral design business Wildflower Florist since becoming single in Singapore. We step into her Bukit Timah house on Duchess Avenue to hear all about her experience being a florist in Singapore and more.
About the home on Duchess Avenue
Size: Six-bedroom landed house
Location: Duchess Avenue, Bukit Timah
Who lives there? Wilma, Emily (13), Olivia (9), Ris (helper), Watson (14.5-year-old beagle)
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a florist in Singapore.
I’m from Sydney, and of Filipino heritage. My expat experience started 18 years ago when I moved to Kuala Lumpur with my now ex-husband. Following his career, over the years we lived in KL, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Singapore.
I’m now on my second stint in Singapore, and it’s been my longest posting. I decided to become a Permanent Resident and have been here for about 10 years. Both of my beautiful daughters were born here, so Singapore holds a special place in my heart.
How did you come to launch your own business Wildflower Florist?
I was keen to get back into the workforce, but not in the same industry I worked in when living in Australia. After some thought and research, I stumbled upon Nobleman School of Floral Design. I enjoyed the trial class so much that I enrolled in their professional commercial floristry course. After completing the floral design course, I worked for a small online floristry business to get my feet under the table as a florist in Singapore.
Bolstered by my passion for floristry and a desire to showcase my floral design vision, I decided to start out on my own. Joining a workshop specifically aimed at how to open a small business gave me the courage to start one myself. And having a public relations background was invaluable in the startup phase. I launched Wildflower Florist during COVID in September 2020. I won’t lie – it was difficult, but I was up for the challenge! I’ve learned so much about floral design and entrepreneurship (and am still learning) in a really short period of time that helped me become a successful florist in Singapore.
How have your property needs changed over time? Do you have some things that are non-negotiables for you?
The first time I lived in Singapore I was married sans kids, so living in a central condo was an easy lifestyle option. Now, however, with two kids, a dog and an online business, a landed house is a must. One of the bedrooms is my dedicated workshop and is always filled with gorgeous fresh flowers. I also need a fair amount of space for storage. Relaxation time often happens poolside, so a pool is another essential for my family. We love your home!
What was it that sealed the deal for you?
The house on Duchess Avenue has great energy, and I knew it was the one for me as soon as I walked through the door. I love the open house concept. Standing at the entrance you can see the open-plan living and dining spaces, and all the way through to the serene pool area. Being surrounded by greenery adds privacy to the home. The modern architecture acts as a perfect backdrop for my eclectic furniture and offers a homely, welcoming feel.
How would you define your interior style?
Most certainly my style is modern Asian – as many sentimental pieces have been accumulated from my time travelling around Southeast Asia (especially Thailand) and Turkey. I’ve also steadily curated art, furniture and home décor accents over the last ten years in Singapore.
What’s your favourite corner of the house on Duchess Avenue and why?
I have two! One is sitting on my sofa, as from there I enjoy the whole view of the living areas of the house. To the left and right side, the sliding doors open to fully let in a lovely cross breeze (which is a godsend in humid Singapore!). Another special space is my workshop. There’s a feature glass window that frames the vibrant pool and garden area, and the room always smells wonderful from the flowers and foliage.
Where do you source your furniture and décor?
There are some standout pieces of furniture and artwork that I love, such as my bamboo armchair and painting by Indonesian artist Yoyok Siswoyo; both are from Layard Interiors. My buffet side table, in blonde wood, is from Woody Antique House. I absolutely adore my tableware from Hankie Pankie Tables, too; it has everything you need for a fabulous dinner party. Hands down one of the best pieces of furniture I’ve ever invested in is my living room sofa from King Living; it’s so versatile. And, as a florist, I’m always on the lookout for statement vases – the stunning ceramic vase from Bowerbird is a feature in my dining room.
What items would you save in a fire?
The first thing I’d save in a fire is the memory boxes I’ve created for each of my daughters. Inside are irreplaceable mementos from when they were babies and toddlers. On a less sentimental note, I’d be lost without my phone as it stores all my credit cards and copies of passports and visas.
Favourite thing about Singapore and the region?
Singapore is undoubtedly one of the world’s most liveable cities, especially from a healthcare and safety perspective. Not only is it easy to get around locally, but it’s also incredibly clean. It’s a great travel hub for short-haul flights around the region, and only seven-and-a-half hours from family and friends in Sydney. I’m in no hurry to leave!
What do you do for fun?
Besides being a florist in Singapore, I’m also a member of SUP Ventures, a stand-up paddleboard club based at Ola Beach Club in Sentosa. It’s a fun paddle community where I’ve made some lifelong friends. When I’m not paddling, you can find me walking in the Singapore Botanic Gardens or bike riding from Gardens by the Bay to East Coast Park.
I Love Nails | Holland Village Shopping Centre (“for nailcare”)
Trimmings Salon & Spa | Tudor Court (“for hair”)
Wildflower Florist | wildflower-florist.com
Osler Health International | osler-health.com
King Living | kingliving.com.sg
Layard Interiors | layardinteriors.com
Woody Antique House | woodyantique.com
Originals | originals.com.sg
Hankie Pankie Tables | hankiepankietables.com
Bowerbird | bowerbird.com.sg
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge (“for Spanish food”) olivia.com.sg
Caffe Fernet (“for Italian”) | caffefernet.sg
Meat Smith | meatsmith.com.sg
North Miznon (“for Israeli”) | northmiznonsg.com
13% Wine Bistro (“for dinner or drinks, or both”) | 13winebistro.com
Corduroy Palace | corduroypalace.com
The Spiffy Dapper | spiffydapper.com
Stay Gold Flamingo | staygoldflamingo.com
This article first appeared in the April 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!